Editorial Lighting - The Minimalist Way

My model looked at me like I was crazy when we drove to a grimy alleyway behind an Italian grocer because I wanted to shoot 'a pretty summertime editorial look'. While I can hardly blame her, I live and work in Seattle, which can certainly live up to its overcast and rainy stereotype. So, I sometimes find myself in a certain mania to use the sun while it's out.

In this article, I'll walk through a quick and simple look where minimal lighting and a bit of color were used to turn our spot in the grocer's alley into a fashionable set - no studio required. In particular, we will look at how the shot was built up to allow creative control in a mixed-lighting situation, using a combination of external flash and available light.

The model fixing her hair.
f2.5, 1/60 @ ISO 200, with color adjusted in post-production

The primary flash was set at f2.0, the background flash at f3.5 which means the main flash is slightly less powerful than the ambient light  and the background light is more powerful than the ambient light. This is why the model's hair is washed out where the background light is shining in.

There were a few challenges for this shoot.  The location was certainly not 'naturally beautiful'. I was shooting in a sedan, which is a fairly constrained space. It was late afternoon. As daylight time was short and I didn't have an assistant with me, the lighting equipment needed to be simple and easy to set up.

As locations go, this is about as un-glamorous as they get.

Why this particular location, sandwiched between a dumpster and a crooked cyclone fence? To build up this look, I wanted to start with 'open shade' - a location that was open to the sky but not in direct sunlight. This gives the background a soft, even light. This was important because I was using external flashes as the main light source; having even light in the background meant that I could set my exposure without worrying about blowing out parts of the background scene.

I was also planning on shooting with a wide aperture to allow the background to blur nicely. The fence, when shot out-of-focus, would provide a fairly interesting visual texture, and the rest of the alley wasn't even going to be in the shot. Most importantly, however, this alley is not a high-traffic location, so I would be able to set up the car and lighting without disturbing anybody or getting passers-by in the photos. 

This is a test shot showing the look using only available light with no
post-processing applied. 
f2.5, 1/80  @ ISO 200.

In the image above note the difference in exposure between the model's arm, which was near the window, and her face, which was in the full shadow of the car. This would be difficult to adjust for without external lighting. Ideally, aside from edge lighting, the model's face would be as bright or brighter than the parts of her body that are in the background. If I hadn't augmented the available light with an artificial light source, the images would be very soft and flat, as in this example. Recall that I was shooting inside a sedan that itself was in open shade. This is an environment with very diffuse, low-contrast light. By the same token, however, this provided an excellent palette for constructing my own lighting setup.

To maximize the effect of the available light and throw the background out of focus, I was shooting with a very wide aperture, f2.5. This can be dangerous territory when photographing people. At f2.5, depth-of-field gets very shallow, particularly for subjects that are close to the camera. Slight movements by the model or the photographer can be enough to throw off critical focus. However, as this was a candid and fairly casual look - one that probably wouldn't be printed at 24 plus inches and hung in a gallery - coming away with something less than an absolutely tack-sharp image was not going to be a deal-breaker.

Metz Mecablitz CT 60-4 flash units. The unit on the right has the built-in diffuser panel in place.

These flash units are each about 10 inches (25.5 cm) tall; a good bit larger than an SB or EX class speedlight. They are powered by lead-acid batteries (lower-left, in case.) This is not exactly a lightweight setup, but it's certainly more portable than cases full of studio strobes and softboxes.

My lighting kit for this shoot was a pair of Metz Mecablitz 60 CT-4 flashes that I had borrowed from an assistant. This is a 2000's era flash system which has some very handy features for situations like these.

Most significantly for this shoot, the units can be hooked up to regular sync cables without requiring expensive adapters. This meant that I could fire the flashes using standard radio triggers - the kind that I already had lying around the studio. This gave me a tremendous amount of freedom in placing the flash heads. I could set one unit behind the model to provide backlight and one unit behind myself, facing the model as a key (main) light.

This is an arrangement that could be very difficult to trigger using a line-of-sight infrared system such as those built into dedicated speedlights. Additionally, the Metz flash units provide an audible recycle indicator - they 'beep' when they're ready to fire again. This was a useful feature since I was placing the flashes behind my back and behind car doors, where it would be difficult to see visual LED recycle indicators on the flashes themselves.

Building up the look: This image shows the added background light.
f2.5, 1/80 @ ISO 200

The background light simulates the angle and tone of bright, late
afternoon sun shining on the model's back.  This light was metered
at f3.5 @ ISO 200 - about a stop brighter than the ambient light.

A car can be used as a quick and easy set, but photographing a person inside a car does present some difficulties. There are a limited number of places where the photographer can go. Using a large car or one with very adjustable seats can give you more possibilities for situating yourself. There are likewise a limited number of locations where lighting can be placed - nominally, pointing in through the car's exterior windows. To get around this, lights could be boomed in through an open window or held by an assistant if necessary.

For this shoot, I wanted the background light to be directly behind the model, pointing towards the camera. I put the light on a stand aimed through the passenger-side window, behind the model and about two feet away from the car. This created a strongly backlit image, picking up color in the hair and putting lighting artifacts (glare) in the frame.

In order to avoid the temptation to zoom out and capture more of the model in my frame, I used a 50mm prime lens for the shoot (65mm equivalent focal-length after crop factor on my APS-H sensor). This was wide enough to get an acceptable amount of the environment and create some separation between the subject and the background, but not wide enough to cause unflattering wide-angle distortion of the model's features, which would have been a risk if I was using a zoom lens and zoomed out too far.

In progress: adding the key light.
f2.5, 1/80 @ ISO 200

The key light was metered at f3.5 @ ISO 200, much brighter than the
ambient light. This direct, non-diffused light is too flat and washed-out
for the intended mood of the image. Also note the strong shadows cast
behind the model's head; this underscores the fact that we're using
artificial light.

The background light alone did not help to open detail in the model's features, so I added a second flash as a key light to illuminate the model. This flash was about 3 feet behind my shoulder, firing through the open driver's side door of the car. However, the raw flash looked too flat and harsh for my intended treatment. Further, I originally set the flash to be about a stop brighter than the ambient light. This gave the image an obvious 'artificially lit' look.

To remedy this, I lowered the flash's power relative to the ambient light and covered the raw flash bulb with the unit's built-in diffuser. I also moved the flash closer to the model. This slightly increased the size of the flash relative to the subject, which further softened the quality of the light. This diffused light was gentle and closer in intensity to the ambient light, which made the lighting look more believable and natural.

Note that I introduced the background light before adding the key light. The background light has a less significant overall effect on the image; I often find it easier to visualize the contribution of lights going from darkest to brightest. The dim lights take back stage after the big lights are added; if I had started with the key light in place, I might have mistakenly tried to adjust this image by lowering the background light.

The main light has been corrected.
f2.5, 1/80 @ ISO 200.

Here, the key light was metered at f2.0 @ ISO 200 - slightly less bright
than the ambient light. At this ratio, the key light is providing a strong
fill without overpowering the natural light.

I had fairly limited options as to where the key light could be placed. If the key light were aimed through the windshield or rear window of the car, the model would have had strongly defined shadows on her features. This would not be appropriate for the mood I wanted to achieve. Placing the light so it was facing the model directly provided even illumination with few shadows. This suited the intended mood of the shoot.

It is worth noting that I metered and adjusted the lights manually, rather than relying on TTL (through-the-lens) metering and exposure compensation. This allowed me very precise and deliberate control over the relative power of the key and background lights, even though the background light was sometimes firing directly into my lens.

Technical lighting has been dialed in.
f2.5, 1/60 @ ISO 200.
The key light has been set at f2.0, the  background light at f3.5. The shutter speed was slowed down slightly from the previous images to account for the setting sun.

Some of the lighting artifacts in this image are distracting. The placement of the background light and the shadow on the model's leg from the key light make it obvious that this was not shot using fully natural light.  Although I liked this image, I felt that these elements detracted from the desired natural look.

As I wanted the lighting in the image to look natural, I also needed to make sure that the background light (our proxy 'sun') was coming from a plausible angle. This meant raising the light to a location where it didn't seem to be shining through an unlikely gap in the fence, which was otherwise backed by solid vegetation.

The final look, with post-processing applied. The lens flare artifacts were deliberately left in the image.  f2.5, 1/60 @ ISO 200

Finally, I added some color in post-processing to give the image a warm, pink sunset tone. This was done using a split color filter in Nik Color Efx Pro 3.0. Nik's software allows filter effects to be adjusted in selected areas of an image, such as the skin, with far fewer clicks than traditional masking. In this case, I reduced the effect of the filter on the skin in order to keep the model from getting an atomic suntan.

Beginning to end, this look took about 15 minutes to set up and shoot. Keeping the lighting simple, thinking about the environmental lighting and paying attention to lighting ratios between the flashes and ambient light allowed me to establish a consistent and predictable look very quickly. Best of all, this isn't the type of lighting set that sometimes shows up in photo magazines, where a small truck full of lighting gear and grip equipment is required to get the look. This can easily be done with a pair of external flashes and your neighborhood specialty grocer's alley.


Thomas Park is a fashion / fine art photographer and educator based in Seattle, Washington. To find out more about his work and workshops, please visit http://www.thomasparkphoto.com

Model: Ira Z
All images © 2011, Thomas Park

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

Comments

Total comments: 89
12
p4ssw0rd
By p4ssw0rd (Jun 11, 2012)

I am not a pro, but what I learned during from my experience (and not only in photography) is - whatever you do there will be people liking it, people hating it and some who do not care.

The conclusion - do it you own way and if you are happy and satisfied, then you did well (it does not matter paid or not). If course this does not mean that you were perfect and you can not use some of the constructive criticism here to improve.

Just my 2c (and even if the final result is not in tune with my personal taste, I see what you are trying to achieve and I appreciate the effort of sharing).

2 upvotes
SirKingly
By SirKingly (Mar 26, 2012)

nice! thanks

0 upvotes
ambercool
By ambercool (Mar 22, 2012)

It's so funny some of the negative comments in this article. Do you remember back when the only thing that most people could afford was a roll of film? And when one wanted to take a candid shot there wasn't even an option to 'flash fill'.

So technical if he's going for that 35mm camera with no accessories he got it right. Artistically, he's always right.

Come on people. I really don't understand some of the comments made by what's technical. You could argue what's technical now might x+y=z, but if he wants the technical look where there was only x then what's the problem?

One important reminder for film studies; overexposure is not wrong. And in art nothing is wrong. Plus, he said "fashionable". Care to argue with anyone on what's "fashionable"? Seriously, do you guys listen to what you say?

3 upvotes
Peter 13
By Peter 13 (Nov 27, 2011)

The best shot IMO is the test shot with available light. But then I am not a pro.

2 upvotes
mathew crow
By mathew crow (Nov 2, 2011)

Thomas- I loved the image, and really appreciate you taking the time to write and post your article. This is obviously a very popular look as a flip through any magazine will tell you. There are people with cameras who are artists, and people with cameras who are technicians. People with cameras who are artistic technicians make the best photos. After seeing the photo, I could already anticipate the rude comments by the technicians who hold the photographic rule book as sacred and never deviate from it. Pity to confine oneself so. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and show your work as well as presume to offer instruction on something to the public. Just want you to know that there are those among us who loved the shot and the look, and appreciate the well written article. I plan on utilizing many of your tips myself soon to shoot a friend in her husband's classic car.

3 upvotes
mathew crow
By mathew crow (Nov 2, 2011)

I can't believe people are getting hung up on the location. Big deal! You picked the best spot to give you open shade with the texture of the fence in the background. The fact that it was an alley was just the means for this. Why are people so offended? Its because those who can- do, and those who can't- criticize and post overtly jealous rants. I'll won't hold my breath waiting for those who posted malicious comments to post their own articles here with their own photographs. Its so much easier to berate than create. Thanks again and keep up the good work. I for one look forward to reading you again sometime.
Matt

1 upvote
GKC
By GKC (Oct 24, 2011)

I understand that you're going for a certain look, and opinions on this sort of thing are subjective but I find the poses awkward and uninspired and the overexposed lens flare aesthetic to be unflattering and overused. That said, if that's the look you're going for, this tutorial tells you how to do it quickly and effectively. +1 for using Metz potato mashers.

1 upvote
JustShane
By JustShane (Oct 20, 2011)

The first shot is great!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
shutterhappens
By shutterhappens (Oct 16, 2011)

If I was a professional photographer, I would make photos that cannot be mistaken for badly exposed snap shots.

1 upvote
csdotam
By csdotam (Oct 26, 2011)

It'd probably be a good time to start doing that, then :)

3 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio
By inevitable crafts studio (Oct 16, 2011)

finally, this is a perfect article !

1 upvote
Nay Zaw Htun
By Nay Zaw Htun (Oct 16, 2011)

thanks....... :)

1 upvote
Terker
By Terker (Oct 15, 2011)

Thomas, thanks so much for taking the time to write this up. It's EXACTLY the lighting I'm planning on for a shoot Tuesday so it's nice to see the set up spelled out like this.

Fantastic work!!!

1 upvote
veroman
By veroman (Oct 15, 2011)

So let me get this straight: you somehow get a pretty girl to get into your car and go with you to some dark alley somewhere, where no one can see you. Then you talk this pretty young lady into going into the back seat of your car so you can "take pictures of her."

Hmmmm .... sounds like something out of American Graffiti ... something a teenager would do. How old are you?

0 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio
By inevitable crafts studio (Oct 16, 2011)

no ! your fantasy about the intention of this and what YOU would like to come after the shooting is the teenage fantasy hehe

2 upvotes
JBWphoto
By JBWphoto (Oct 13, 2011)

My favorite pic was of the flash units. :p

1 upvote
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Oct 12, 2011)

This look is definitely a tool for the kit. Something everyone should learn how to do.

However, I will warn this: do NOT try to use this heavily on weddings. I just retouched photos for a client who's wedding was ruined by far too liberal use of this bright, high key, forced flare look. It's neat for posed shots. But NOT for things you don't get a second chance at like the ceremony.

Also: bracket a lot when you're starting. Every camera clips differently and you'e working at the extremes of exposure here.

1 upvote
thomaspark
By thomaspark (Oct 12, 2011)

Thank you all for your comments! It's been said that any art that provokes a reaction is a successful piece of art. Even those reactions that are unfavourable, unconstructive, inarticulate (or even flat-out incomprehensible) mean that you felt strongly enough to take the time to read some of the article and comment.

For those readers who seem to be wanting a glossy magazine cover shoot or whatever, I'm afraid those weren't the point of this article. As stated, it's an informal, unfussy editorial look. The cover shoot? That would be a different article.

Relax, lighten up. It's just photography. You don't have to like it all.

Kind regards

5 upvotes
bm bradley
By bm bradley (Oct 12, 2011)

thomaspark,

the images look like they were created placing a camera in a car with a woman and then rolling the car off a hill. absolutely no balance, or forethought other than.... whoa!! a girl, I'll take some images and impress my friends. (imoh)

the model is chopped up in very unattractive poses. unprofessional, and unflattering in every way thomas... and you're right, I do feel strongly about poor photography presented as a standard or guide for to be used to aspire other photographers trying to learn the 'art'

bmb

0 upvotes
Musiclady
By Musiclady (Oct 14, 2011)

"It's been said that any art that provokes a reaction is a successful piece of art."

If that were the case, then every bad film, every terrible singer, every unfunny comedian, every worthless stage play, every sloppy dancer, etc., can be considered successful. Sorry, it doesn't quite work that way.

1 upvote
David0X
By David0X (Oct 12, 2011)

By David0X (Oct 10, 2011 at 21:07:56 GMT)
I joined up just so I could comment on this article.

The article is good, and useful. The shot is high quality.

As a working photographer I am surprised by the level of ignorance of those who can't see that.

Thomas - thankyou for writing it; I often need to try to get a shoot done with limited gear and it's always good to see how others approach the situation.

I recently shot an advertisement with one speedlight blowing out ambient sunlight - had I posted it here I doubltess would have been told it was no good and all the posters here could have done better by chance.

I hope other authors are not put off by the ignorant and mean spirited comments (which also appeared when the article was titled fashion shoot, which I thought was fine, by the way)

Just as well commercial photogaphy is about pleasing the client not forum posters!

8 upvotes
madeinlisboa
By madeinlisboa (Oct 14, 2011)

What??? Listen fellow, I didn't call him an ignorant as you did to me. My comments were polite, even if I didn't agree at all with the technique used and the final results. You way out of line. Restraint your comments and get some photography lessons. You sure need them.

1 upvote
princewolf
By princewolf (Oct 12, 2011)

Thank you for this article. I appreciate the work. There is some very useful advice such as how harsh shadows can give away artificial light, and setting up lights from darker to lighter. I think the first and last images look quite similar in thev feel they convey. It may be easy to get such a shot by accident, but getting them by design is what makes them valuable.

1 upvote
Gavril Margittai
By Gavril Margittai (Oct 12, 2011)

I can certainly understand the crowd that does not "get" this photo. It is technically incorrect, seems like the author is using a few thousand dollars worth of equipment to come up with a technically incorrect result.

This picture is trendy, it has the look and feel of a photo taken by a phone camera and posted on facebook. There is a charm in its frugality, lack of dynamic range washed out areas. It looks like it was done spontaneously.
But of course it was not, and one needs to work hard to get a picture like this with a perfect control of the amount of "freakness".

This reminds me of the ridicule the modern paintings were received at the beginning, because they were not reproducing accurately the reality. Maybe now that we have the technical side all worked out and anybody can do a correctly exposed image with proper lighting, the pros decided to turn it all upside down.

1 upvote
Musiclady
By Musiclady (Oct 12, 2011)

Interesting point of view. And the fact that many thousands of dollars worth of gear was used is an important thing to make note of ... particularly since the result is so amateurish. The great photographers have shown us time and time again that the gear has little or nothing to do with the end result. The best gear in the worst hands will always result in the worst pictures.

2 upvotes
Musiclady
By Musiclady (Oct 11, 2011)

This is not very good work. It does not deserve an article where the purpose is to guide others in a creative direction. The images would not pass muster in a photography classroom at the college level much less in the real world of fashion and glamor photography. Really, if dpreview sincerely wants to help its members do better as photographers, surely they can find work that's more inspiring than this. It's simply mediocre, regardless of whether or not the photographer is a working "pro" and got paid to do this.

3 upvotes
dbateman
By dbateman (Oct 11, 2011)

The very first shot in the series in more interesting then the last title the final look.

The concept I think is great, the location, using the car and an extremely attractive model. Some images seems to be going down a different road then the intent (more xxx, than fashion or glamor).

The final image I will agree with bm bradely, is really bad. With this attractive model, I would gone for more of the Super Model leaves the car on the way to Movie or Awards premier shot. In stead the final shot looks like woman pick up off the street for something to happen in less than 5 minutes.

3 upvotes
bm bradley
By bm bradley (Oct 11, 2011)

the compostion is pretty bad IMHO

1 upvote
MarinoDiMare
By MarinoDiMare (Oct 11, 2011)

Why do these article keep having their names altered? First the dog article became "creative canines", now this one went from 'fashion' to 'editorial'.

0 upvotes
marianco
By marianco (Oct 11, 2011)

If the photo was paid for, then it is professionally done.

0 upvotes
fastlass
By fastlass (Oct 11, 2011)

Great job for working the lens flare rather than running from it!

1 upvote
WilliamE
By WilliamE (Oct 11, 2011)

I was thinking the same sentiment.
In a way the lens flare brings some excitement and reality of the tight circumstance into the work - somehow it is less artificial for not being perfect. That won't work in every situation - but in this one it certainly does.
I learned a lot from the article and am encouraged to have a go without thinking I need to invest in a truck full of lighting equipment to get some pleasing images.

2 upvotes
PeterTom
By PeterTom (Oct 11, 2011)

Well, I do not get it. Or maybe I get it, just I do not like it...?

It reminds me of many "before and after" pictures or videos, which I see on the Net or in TV. The takes a "normal looking" woman and then they "enhance" her look. They take a picture or video before the "enhancements", then they put tons of make-up on her and change her dress from normal to crazy fashion and then they make the "after" shot or video.
And... I always like the "before" picture much better.

And it's the same here.
The first picture ("no post-processing applied") is the best one, IMO. It is the most natural one. The next shot is already visibly "artificial", but still quite nice - it adds some mood without destroying the technical quality, and the colors are still quite natural. Then all the further photos just destroy the picture. The last one finally looks like taken by a Lomo or Holga or a mobile phone.

I know that in majority cases my opinion is in minority, but I had to write it... :)

2 upvotes
jsandjs
By jsandjs (Oct 16, 2011)

The first one is the best. period.

0 upvotes
madeinlisboa
By madeinlisboa (Oct 11, 2011)

I mean no disrespect but I don't understand this article. You mention that the location was certainly not 'naturally beautiful' but you don't use it at all. The shots were taken inside a car. You could have done those on a beach, country or an alley. It wouldn't matter.
The use of flash in a car is forbidden. The area is just too small. Reflectors are mandatory. None of the shots are correctly exposed and the harsh light of the sun on the skin is pretty bad.
I would have used reflectors on the outside and take advantage of the fence to get fashion like photos.
Please, don't take this as an offense but this is misleading for rookie photographers.

2 upvotes
Danlo
By Danlo (Oct 11, 2011)

Im sorry, but I dont call this fashion. The idea with the shoot is great, but the exposure is never quite right..

Please check out www.managementartists.com and learn what fashion-photography is.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
WilliamE
By WilliamE (Oct 11, 2011)

I went to the website - some nice stuff there for sure - and no doubt using all the best lighting tricks and equipment. But how is this image any better than what we see here? :
http://www.managementartists.com/#/p=b/portfolio/photography/dusan_reljin/celebrities/c58690c6-1cac-4e04-a5c3-d2959fb64838/

0 upvotes
galih aditya
By galih aditya (Oct 22, 2011)

ya, i agree with u

0 upvotes
BBGunWB
By BBGunWB (Oct 11, 2011)

Thanks. Have just started collecting lighting elements, this helps a lot as to how to approach things when trying to judge the lighting for what is available and what I want. Still learning and trying to graduate from amateur snapshooter to semi-pro hobbyist. Natural lighting I get. Artificial lighting, not so much.... yet.

1 upvote
cberry
By cberry (Oct 11, 2011)

Nice work. I'm sure this image could sell product like perfume in a men's or women's magazine along the lifestyle lines - especially using the back seat reference.
cb

0 upvotes
bryanbrun
By bryanbrun (Oct 11, 2011)

This is a well written informative piece.

But you should never put a model in such an unnatural obviously uncomfortable position (sitting backwards in the rear of a car).

The weirdness of that distracts from the aesthetics of the shot.

0 upvotes
Boomz
By Boomz (Oct 10, 2011)

Thanks Thomas for the step by step article and sharing the insights. I could really benefit from a lighting plan of the final set up, if you have one. It looks like both lights were directly opposite of each other. Thanks.

0 upvotes
Peter Hayward
By Peter Hayward (Oct 10, 2011)

This is the type of content I've been looking for in dpreview for years. A good editorial decision.
Please keep it up.

0 upvotes
rjajr
By rjajr (Oct 10, 2011)

I must have missed the fashion part...

1 upvote
eyedo
By eyedo (Oct 10, 2011)

What camera did you use ?

0 upvotes
goodgeorge
By goodgeorge (Oct 10, 2011)

I'm pretty sure it does not matter. It should be anything from 7 years old SLR to modern MF back with very similar results (at this resolution)

3 upvotes
Tom Bird
By Tom Bird (Oct 10, 2011)

he said APS-H, that is: Canon 1D Mark 3 or 4

0 upvotes
cf20855
By cf20855 (Oct 10, 2011)

As a landscape/nature amateur, I liked this article for the way it walks us through a fashion lighting setup thought process, and the techniques involved in starting with ambient light, then working up from least-bright to most-bright artificial lighting, with some self-critiquing/tweaking and post-processing thrown in. I can see how to generalize the lessons here to other situations. Whether one would have tried to achieve the same final product oneself is sort of beside the point, isn't it?

1 upvote
intrnst
By intrnst (Oct 10, 2011)

Joining the chorus: Well written, open minded and interesting.
Thank you.

0 upvotes
MrClick
By MrClick (Oct 10, 2011)

I work for an art studio myself. The samples here don't cut it on the artistic front for me. The effect can be enhanced to make it more appealing. Current images on display look kinda incomplete.

That said, the article in itself is not too bad. Better than most of the other totally newbie 'photography 123' type articles being made available in here lately.

I just feel that the samples should have been a lot better to give appropriate 'weight' to the textual content of this article.

8 upvotes
thomaspark
By thomaspark (Oct 10, 2011)

Fair criticism. Like any professional, I was a little hesitant to put test shots or "work in progress" images up in a public forum such as this. However, I thought that these would be important to illustrate the actual progression of the look, as it was built up.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

12 upvotes
2gDSM
By 2gDSM (Oct 10, 2011)

I thought that detailing the progression of the look was the purpose of the article in the first place! Thank you very much for doing this.

1 upvote
Michael J Davis
By Michael J Davis (Oct 11, 2011)

Thanks Thomas, I appreciated the step by step approach and the simplicity of the lighting set up.

I'd have welcomed a bit more about what was in your mind when you started. Why shoot fashion in a car and cramped mode?

Look forward to more like this...

0 upvotes
Dan Wagner
By Dan Wagner (Oct 10, 2011)

I don't get it.

1 upvote
jhoff80
By jhoff80 (Oct 10, 2011)

I'm not even close to an expert, and the author is obviously way more talented than I am, but am I the only one who prefers the darker two images before processing and adding in all of the lights?

Again, I don't mean to sound rude at all. It's just my knowledge of photography is more technical and I need to learn more about the artistic side of it, so I really want to know why the brighter pictures, which to me seem too washed out, are better.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
thomaspark
By thomaspark (Oct 10, 2011)

Do you know that feeling when you're walking down the road in the late afternoon and there is this gorgeous golden sunlight streaming through the trees so brightly that you have to squint a bit? That was the feeling I was wanting to capture here. I definitely can't argue with you - it absolutely is a bit washed out. But it conveys that *feeling* - or so I hope!

11 upvotes
madeinlisboa
By madeinlisboa (Oct 11, 2011)

That would be right if the highlights were not cropped the way they were. That's a technique used specially on weddings and portraits, but it is very difficult to obtain. You need at least 3 controlled light sources to get that effect, and the easiest way is to apply a High Key filter in Photoshop.

0 upvotes
cstephens
By cstephens (Oct 9, 2011)

Great article, thanks. Which Nik filter, specifically, was used for the post processing? From the description it could have been any of a few of the color efex filters.

0 upvotes
thomaspark
By thomaspark (Oct 10, 2011)

Thanks, I'm very glad you enjoyed it. I toned this using the "bi-color filter", with a user-defined pink hue at the bottom-right of the image and a golden hue to the upper-left. You can definitely see the pink in the car's interior. The gold just intensified the color of the sunlight. I removed 60 - 70% of the effect from the model's skin, which helped smooth the transition.

Comment edited 56 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Ashley Pomeroy
By Ashley Pomeroy (Oct 9, 2011)

So you popped off to this location in order to shoot inside the car? You could have got out of the car and used the wall as a backdrop, or something, anything.

0 upvotes
Ashley Pomeroy
By Ashley Pomeroy (Oct 9, 2011)

I mean, heck, I've done this myself; in Southwark, Elephant & Castle, bits of London. I've done this, and better. You could have used that blue building in the distance as a diffuse blue backdrop, or pose her in the doorway as a natural frame; the fence is visually interesting, although it would have been better to wait for the sun to go lower. Keep the model away from the backdrop, stand several paces in front of her, f/1.4, f/2.8, change your setting to meet the conditions and your intention. Don't just stay inside the car, vary it, make people think you did five or six shoots instead of just the one.

1 upvote
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Oct 9, 2011)

Elephant and Castle has very similar grunge appeal, no doubt about that. Why don't you write an article about your shoot there? I'd love to read and (and see) it.

4 upvotes
Irakly Shanidze
By Irakly Shanidze (Oct 9, 2011)

Thomas, I mean no disrespect, but your examples are not very convincing fashion photos. Portraits maybe, but not fashion. None of these pictures shows the dress well enough. This is important, because taking a photo fulfilling this requirement actually would force you out of the car. I'd like to see how you would handle this glamorous location in that case.

8 upvotes
thomaspark
By thomaspark (Oct 10, 2011)

Thank you for your comment! No disrespect taken; I actually thought of this as an editorial / lifestyle look, myself. I'm afraid I didn't title this one.

3 upvotes
anthonywho
By anthonywho (Oct 9, 2011)

Really good, the Metz lives on.

1 upvote
BILKO45
By BILKO45 (Oct 9, 2011)

Lovely article. Very readable. Good lighting technique, very effective and well explained. Thanks.

0 upvotes
MarinoDiMare
By MarinoDiMare (Oct 9, 2011)

Excellent article, could serve as a blueprint for others. Really like how the article is built around a single shot, provides depth and insights.

1 upvote
RMillward
By RMillward (Oct 9, 2011)

Thomas, thanks for the enlightening and detailed report. It certainly encourages experimentation to know that I don't need "the truckload of lighting" I assumed was required to create that uniquely natural-yet-highly-stylized look. I look forward to reading more of your articles like this.

1 upvote
photosen
By photosen (Oct 9, 2011)

Very interesting! Thank you.

0 upvotes
ranferi rodriguez
By ranferi rodriguez (Oct 9, 2011)

Thank you!

0 upvotes
increments
By increments (Oct 9, 2011)

Very good description of how to build a shot. As just an amateur snap-shooter I don't do this kind of thing myself but I really enjoyed reading about how it works.

1 upvote
Gediminas 8
By Gediminas 8 (Oct 9, 2011)

Not for me - no specialty grocer in my neighbourhood...

Seriously, found it constructive and interesting. Thanks.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 89
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